A Year in the Bush and a Lesson for Life

I remember that day like it was yesterday. A hot and humid early summer day in November 2020, the day my Field Guide Level 1 course started. Little did I know that from this day on, I would embark on a journey that would teach me so many things and make me leave my comfort zone. A journey that yet continues to last.

With a 16 hours road trip to Hoedspruit in my bones, I remember being a bit shy to meet the people I would spend the next few weeks and even share a tent with but also curious as to what this chapter would hold for me. On that day, a new door opened up in front of me but let me tell you straight, an open door still means you have to step through it.

Exactly one year later, I’m sitting in Kruger National Park overlooking the Olifants River while I’m writing this blog. With 2021 coming to an end soon, it’s the perfect opportunity to recap the last year for me. I started as an online student during the lockdown, went through the 35 days practical, did Advanced Rifle Handling and the Apprentice Trails Guide course followed by being a Backup at EcoTrainings Makuleke camp, and joined some primitive backpacking trails.

Photograph © Marie Schmidt

Now, I’m supporting the Media Team by creating content for EcoTrainings communication platforms. It’s been a year full of open doors and opportunities. One blog post is certainly not enough to share all the experiences I was lucky to gain on that journey. What I want to share though is the most precious thing the bush has taught me.

A Lesson for Life

Thinking about the past year, it simply amazes me how much knowledge I gained. And there’s still so much more to learn. From A for Arthropods to Z for Zygodactyl foot structures of birds. Every day in the bush I feel like a sponge that tries to soak up as much knowledge as possible from our guides and books provided. The more I learn, the more things start to make sense. What I realize though is that the most important thing I learned is something no book could ever teach me: I learned to let things happen and trust that they happen for a reason. Now you might think that this just sounds like one of these cheesy inspirational quotes you read while scrolling down the screen on your phone and zooming yourself into the world of (anti-)social media…I agree, it sounds a bit like that.

Photograph © Marie Schmidt

A Special Moment in Time

I can’t exactly tell you what it was for me or how the African Bush does it but I can tell you that spending time in the bush and learning about it will do something with you. I remember one specific moment after which something in me felt different. My group and I were sitting on an open plain after a relaxed afternoon game drive watching the sunset and the moon rise. In the distance, we could hear Greater Kudus barking and Chacma Baboons shouting. I took some steps away from the group as I wanted to have a moment in quiet to enjoy the scenery. I turned my gaze towards the sky and suddenly a giant green flash enlightened the sky that looked like it was about to hit the earth in the far distance. Never before had I seen something bright green in the sky. In my excitement, I turned around to the group pointing towards the sky only to realize that nobody else had even noticed the bright green object. I smiled and knew that this was my very own moment.

A Bright Shooting Star

Later that evening I learned, what I was witnessing was nothing more than a meteorite. A simple yet big shooting star with its bright green appearance indicates a high content of copper making its tail glow green. I have no explanation for what exactly happened in me on that evening out on the plain but I know that it calmed me down and gave me confidence and I suddenly knew, this is exactly where I belong. Right here, right now.

Photograph © Marie Schmidt

Lessons from the Bush

No matter what your reason will be to join a course or what you are looking for from an experience in the bush, the African bush teaches each and every one of us a different lesson. Which lesson it will be for you? I don’t know but I’m confident to say you’ll find out once you are here. If you are open to it, a door will always open for you. While some doors might close or remain locked, I truly believe that once you step through that one open door the next one will follow and will lead you your way. Trust your inner compass and let it happen, cause it all happens for a reason.

Meet the Team l Out in the Bush

In this video we get to meet Christoff Els our “on the ground” Content Creator always looking and waiting to capture those great moments. We also get to meet EcoTraining’s Media Intern Marie Schmidt. She loves to be out in the bush and is ready to capture the new and unexpected.

Enjoy watching what happens behind the scenes at EcoTraining…

About the Author: 

Marie Schmidt is a past EcoTraining student, Back-up at Makuleke, and currently an EcoTraining Media Intern.